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MEDICAL ELECTRONICS

COVER STORY

LightIntegra’s blood analyzer infuses fresh pulse within medical circles Vancouver-based maker of ThromboLUX medical device nets funding support BY SOHAIL KAMAL

used to definitively characterize each platelet bag as activated or non-activated, and it could save lives,” says Maurer, Ph.D.

Shaken by the patient’s death

Dr. Elisabeth Maurer, Ph.D, founder and CTO of LightIntegra

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After studying platelets during her doctoral research, Maurer began the journey with LightIntegra when she accepted a position as a research scientist with CBS in their research facilities at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Her research team conducted an observational pilot study at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) in 2007 using the first ThromboLUX prototype. During the study, patient number 12 died, and Dr. Maurer noticed that the final three transfusions the patient received all had a similar characteristic, as measured by ThromboLUX. All three transfusions contained activated platelets. Shaken by this patient’s death, Dr. Maurer asked the question: “If the platelet bags had been tested beforehand and these particular platelets had not been transfused, would patient 12 still be alive?” This question continues to drive her, and LightIntegra, today. CBS supplies all blood products to Canadian patients outside Quebec, including platelets. However, not much was known about the

characteristics of platelets in platelet products that were supplied. Dr. Maurer researched ways to quickly characterize the platelets inside a platelet bag and determine if the platelets were functional. “Platelets dramatically change their shape when exposed to room tem-

We don’t view ourselves as selling a medical device to hospitals and blood banks. Our mission is to make the most of a precious commodity by allocating the right platelets to the right patient right now. perature, which prompted the question of its biological purpose,” Maurer explains. “Platelets are the primary carriers of serotonin in the blood, and since one of the parameters that is controlled by serotonin is body temperature I thought that this might provide the link.” Maurer found that activated platelets are more sensitive to cooling, and incorporated this temperature sensitivity to test platelet activation status with ThromboLUX, a machine that measures dynamic light scattering.

Photo: LightIntegra Technology

Understanding how painful failed transfusions are for physicians, the blood bank - and most importantly, the patients, Vancouver-based LightIntegra Technology Inc. has infused medical circles with a life-saving solution. A medical device called ThromboLUX, represents the first analyzer to provide a routine test for platelet activation status. Since its inception more than 10-years ago, Lightintegra has strived to provide patients with the best possible chance for platelet transfusion success by ensuring all hematology-oncolgy patients receive non-activated platelets. The premise of the ThromboLUX technology is that activated platelets are optimal for clotting and are therefore most effective for trauma or surgery patients and non-activated platelets are optimal for cancer patients. The current standard of care assumes all platelet bags are the same; however, up to 50% of a platelet bag inventory may be activated. When activated platelets are given to immune-compromised patients, such as cancer patients, it potentially leads to failed transfusions with multiple failed transfusions leading to platelet refractoriness, which can ultimately result in death. With 32% of platelet transfusions failing, finding a solution to determine activation status becomes imperative, according to Dr. Elisabeth Maurer, founder and CTO of LightIntegra, which benefitted from a lot of early support and funding from Canadian Blood Service (CBS), as well as significant investment from Genome BC. “The ThromboLUX analyzer delivers a five-minute test that can be

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Electronic Products & Technology June/July 2019  

Electronic Products & Technology June/July 2019